The Plank

Does Mccain Want To Lock In Bush's Foreign Policy?

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Last time John McCain gave an in-depth foreign policy address--his March speech in Los Angeles--the papers crowed that he was abandoning George W. Bush's approach to world affairs:

"McCain Outlines Foreign Policy; In Speech, He Vows Collaborative Approach." (WP)

"McCain, in Foreign Policy Talk, Turns His Back on Unilateralism." (NYT)

I'm not so sure. McCain did indeed vow to rely on allies, but when you look closer at the substance of his proposals--his vow to create a "League of Democracies" to police the globe--it becomes clear that he's just trying to create an institutionalized version of President Bush's "coalition of the willing."

While they're rhetorically different--Bush's approach evokes cowboys rounding up a posse to go hang Saddam, while McCain's plays to his Teddy Roosevelt fetish--both proposals try to construct a world order based on moral clarity, which divides the globe into "good" and "bad" states (those willing to confront evil, say, and those who are not).

This is a fundamentally conservative approach to world affairs (cf. Peter Scoblic's U.S. vs. Them or today's LAT op-ed to see why), but McCain is trying to make it sound moderate by dressing it up as Cold War internationalism. After all, the man is fighting a general election race--he can afford to pivot to the center.

--Barron YoungSmith

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